To protect Waikiki from flooding, Army Corps wants to raze Palolo homes

Palolo residents check out Pukele Stream, the site of a potential retention basin.
Palolo residents check out Pukele Stream, the site of a potential retention basin.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Feb. 5, 2019 at 5:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A nearly half a billion dollar federal project to protect Waikiki from flooding in the event of a 100-year storm is running into resistance from Palolo residents.

They’re upset because flood control measures upstream in residential areas mean their properties could be taken out — not by water but by construction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to build six debris and floodwater detention basins in the upper streams of Palolo, Manoa and Makiki.

Some are as wide as two-thirds of a football field.

Jordan Wong, a Palolo resident and landowner, got a DLNR letter informing him of the Army Corps' plans for flood control in the Ala Wai Watershed. The government may buy his property, he was told.

"I couldn't believe it. We've been here multi-generational so my father developed this area," said Wong.

The Army Corps says the basins are needed soon to mitigate impacts of a 100-year storm event which could inundate Waikiki, damage more than 3,000 structures and cost more than a billion dollars.

There are many homes and empty lots that are along Pukele Stream which feeds Palolo Stream that eventually leads to the Ala Wai Canal. Long-time residents say despite the many storms over the years, they have never seen it flood.

"We've been here when it rained 40 days and 40 nights. We've been here through the hurricanes. There have never been issues at all," said Wong.

Palolo landowner Dave Watase has property along Waiomao Stream. He also get a letter targeting his property and is organizing an effort to stop the project.

"I want the Army Corps to stop what they are doing because I think there are better ways and if nobody stops them they are going to build it," said Watase.

Other organizations along the Ala Wai Watershed have expressed concerns including Iolani and Hokulani schools.

Congress has already appropriated $345 million for the project and Gov. David Ige put $125 million in his proposed budget, but the Army Corps doesn’t have target build date since it’s still working on funding.

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